Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) vs. Western Medical Model for Complex Illnesses
In the realm of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), complexity finds simplicity. While the Western medical model relies on tests and medications to alleviate symptoms, TCM focuses on restoring the body's functionality. This article explores the relief TCM offers to those with undiagnosed or multiple conditions, contrasting the Western model's approach. It also delves into Gu Syndrome, an ancient TCM concept tied to hidden pathogens affecting both body and mind.
What is Gu Syndrome in Traditional Chinese Medicine?
In ancient Chinese medicine, Gu Syndrome referred to complex illnesses caused by parasitic infections. Today, it symbolizes chronic, treatment-resistant conditions characterized by multi-systemic inflammatory symptoms. Gu Syndrome originates from external pathogen infections that overpower the immune system, taking root in the body and altering its internal terrain. This leads to various health issues, including neurological, mental/emotional, autoimmune, and digestive symptoms.
Common Symptoms of Gu Syndrome
- Neuromuscular symptoms: migrating joint pain, muscle soreness, weakness, temperature sensitivity
- Mental/emotional symptoms: fatigue, depression, cognitive issues, mood swings, insomnia
- Autoimmune reactions: allergies, inflammatory responses
- Low-grade chronic fever
- Digestive symptoms: bloating, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, food cravings
Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (C.I.R.S.)
In the Western medical model, Gu Syndrome aligns with diagnoses like Chronic Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, and long-haul Covid. Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (CIRS), also known as Biotoxin Illness, encompasses these conditions. CIRS presents a wide range of symptoms falling into 13 symptom clusters, making diagnostic testing essential.
Routes of Exposure to Biotoxins causing CIRS
- Inhalation of water-damaged building toxins, prevalent in most buildings with poor remediation.
- Tick or spider bites carrying infections.
- Consumption of fish contaminated with Ciguatera toxin.
- Contact with water contaminated by toxins from fish kills or through aerosolized toxins.
Assessing Indoor Air Quality
The key to determining the source of water-damaged building toxins is to identify sources of moisture and control them. Bear in mind that “water damage” does not always result from an obvious leak or flood.
Many of the most potent water-damaged building toxins and mold result from condensation and high humidity, minor moisture sources that are as stealth and hidden as the pathogens they create. Finding them is not an easy task, especially in a world where plumbing pipes are hidden behind walls and our homes are full of areas that we rarely see - behind walls, in attics, crawl spaces and cabinets we don’t use.
Find the moisture
- Hire a company that specializes in finding hidden leaks using thermal imaging cameras, such as American Leak Detection. These services are often covered by insurance.
- Visual inspection. Look in your attic or crawl spaces for signs of water such as staining or compressed insulation. Examine your walls for areas with peeling, cracking, bubbling or discoloration.
- Monitor your appliances that use water. For example, your refrigerator can have a leaking water line, or an issue that is causing ice to form. Front-loading washing machines are prone to moisture buildup in the gaskets.
- Invest in a moisture meter that will tell you if your walls and floors are damp. This is often a sign of a plumbing issue or water leaking in from outside. Our favorite moisture meter is from Klein Tools.
Assess the toxins
Do not rely on the results of one test to give you the full picture of toxins you are dealing with. Air samples are often recommended to test for mold, though even the CDC discourages the use of air samples to assess indoor air quality. Water-damaged building toxins are difficult to test for, requiring a multi-pronged approach. This list covers many options, in order of affordability:
- Gravity plates. These are sold in packages that contain multiple plates that you can use in different areas of the home to assess “colony count.” One reliable company to buy plates from is Microbalance Health Products.
- Envirobiomics sells DIY dust tests for fungi, bacteria and the toxins they produce. It is important to note that dust samples for mold only can give a false sense of relief, as bacteria-related toxins often grow faster and are found in test results when mold is not.
- Canine Mold Detectives. A dog’s nose is a very effective tool for finding hidden mold in places like behind walls and generally much more affordable than an environmental hygienist.
- An environmental hygienist is the appropriate professional to bring in to assess air quality. Be sure that the person you choose understands the health impacts of poor indoor air quality and plans to recommend an alternate company for any recommended remediation. It is a conflict of interest to use the same company for both testing and remediation.
Strategies for Healing
Once indoor air quality is assessed and improved, a systematic and multi-pronged approach is crucial to combat and outmaneuver the stealth pathogens of Gu Syndrome. In practical terms, this means alternating treatment methods, anticipating the intelligence of the pathogens and accepting that they will eventually figure out a workaround that attempts to disarm your treatment strategy. It requires a systematic, multi-pronged, thoughtfully-designed approach.
Treating the digestive system's dysfunction by tonifying spleen and stomach qi, addressing systemic inflammation by moving stagnant liver qi, and restoring the innate immune system's function are key steps to healing. Learn more in the articles about Liver Qi Stagnation and Understanding Yin Deficiency.
OHCO offers a range of herbal products based on TCM principles that complement a comprehensive treatment strategy for Gu Syndrome. Their products, such as Stomach Chi and Aller Snap, help restore the body's functionality when taken daily.
Understanding Gu Syndrome and its connection to CIRS provides valuable insights into chronic, treatment-resistant health issues. Incorporating TCM principles into the treatment approach, alongside addressing environmental factors, can be instrumental in finding relief and restoring well-being.